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Twelfth installment of Stanford University–J. F. Oberlin University Commemorative Lecture Series to be held on Nov. 25

The Legitimatization of Silence: Engaging with Buraku Issues in Contemporary Japan

How do we decide what to talk about and what to silence? Using the case of the burakumin, an “invisible” minority in Japan, I examine how silence on the existence and the experiences of burakumin is reproduced and challenged at the individual and institutional levels. Based on over a decade of longitudinal ethnographic research, including participant observations in two public junior high schools, I explore the experiences of forty burakumin youth in two different communities. I consider the overall cultural values of each community, shaped by differing social movement organizations advocating for burakumin, and the ways in which they affected how youth present themselves in different contexts. Further, I examine the two contrasting approaches the youth take within the community, following the locally dominant form of engagement: openly voicing their background or wrapping buraku issues in silence. Finally, I show how the youth act in ways that intentionally and unintentionally reproduce silence surrounding buraku issues in Japan.

SpeakerChristopher Bondy (Associate Professor of Sociology and Coordinator for Japan Studies at International Christian University)
Date and timeFriday, Nov. 25 from 16:10 to 17:40
LanguageLecture in English (Q&A may be in Japanese)
PlaceMeimeikan A204, Machida Campus

Christopher Bondy is an Associate Professor of Sociology and the Coordinator for Japan Studies at International Christian University, Tokyo, where he began teaching in 2012. His areas of interest include the relationship between education and various forms of capital and changing approaches of social movements. His research centers on contemporary buraku issues, with an emphasis on the day-to-day experiences of burakumin, highlighted in his book Voice, Silence and Self: Negotiations of Buraku Identity (Harvard University Press, 2015). In addition, he conducts research and has published on the gap between policies on and implementation of minority education. His current research project is a comparative study on the representations of minorities in textbooks and the manner in which schools with large minority populations respond to those portrayals. Bondy has been a post-doctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University and a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Education.